Sometimes a person perfectly matches their profession. We see this in dancers, like Svetlana Zakharova, and impulsively know she was meant for performance and pirouettes– hers are legs meant for the ballet. We see it in writers, like Joan Didion, her scalpel-like intelligence and virtuoso for the written word personified by a slightly upturned, witty-looking pout. In this sense, form following function pertains to the architecture of being.
Such is the case for Barrett Prendergast, founder, chef, and ample smile behind Valleybrink Road, a Los Angeles-based catering company specializing in dinner parties and showers. Like the food she prepares, this pairing is organic; the chef and her kitchen have a natural affinity for each other.
For Barrett, a good meal has the ability to, “brighten a bad day. Bring people together. Make people feel happy, satisfied, and alive.” It was this logic that gave Valleybrink Road its momentum. A few years ago when Barrett and her husband Andre were closing a handbag line they had started, she turned to the kitchen to cheer herself up. “The more I was cooking and sharing my recipes,” she says, “the more I was enjoying it.”
People started asking if she would be interested in cooking for them and catering, and she just started saying yes. “I never consciously set out to become a chef or start a catering company. It just naturally developed on its own.” Before the LA native had a chance to feel down, she was cooking at other people’s houses 3-4 times a week.
“What I bring home influences what I will be making in the week to come,” Barrett says, explaining that much of her inspiration and ingredients come from Sunday trips to the Farmers Market. Shopping and cheffing sustainably are of “the utmost importance” to her, sustainability being the foundation of her food philosophy (one she shares with mentor Alice Waters). “Not only does the food taste better, but I am able to support the smaller family farms and my local community. Since my style of cooking is all about using the best seasonal ingredients, this is the only way to go.”
The honesty in her smile and her food, the abundance of her side plait, and the halo of fresh flowers often seen framing her face, all match the family-style simplicity of her meals, and one can’t help but note, she belongs there– in a kitchen and in the company of good, local food.
When asked about the future of Valleybrink Road, Barrett says, “I am just existing in the moment right now. I can only hope that it continues to move in the direction it is and that I am able to share my food and philosophy with more people. Nothing makes me happier than feeding people and I feel blessed that is what I get to do everyday.”
Sometimes the most clever thing, is the most simple of all.
Click through to get to know Barrett a little better.